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Pensions And Gratuities For Members Of Certain Boards

Volume 77: debated on Thursday 18 April 1985

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

  • (1) The following subsection shall be inserted after subsection (3) of section 12 of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 (Horserace Totalisator Board)—
    "(3A) The Board may pay such pension or gratuity to or in respect of any member of the Board as the Board may, with the approval of the Secretary of State, determine .".
  • (2) The following subsection shall be inserted after subsection (6) of section 24 of that Act (Horserace Betting Levy Board)—
    "(6A) The Levy Board may pay such pension or gratuity as the Board may, with the approval of the Secretary of State, determine, to or in respect of the chairman and any other members appointed by the Secretary of State.".
  • (3) The following paragraph shall be inserted after paragraph 5 of Schedule 1 to the Gaming Act 1968 (provisions as to Gaming Board for Great Britain)—
    "5A. The Secretary of State may pay such pension or gratuity to or in respect of any member of the Board as the Secretary of State may, with the consent of the Treasury, determine .". '—[Mr.Whitney.]
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

    With this, it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 140 and 108.

    The Bill makes important improvements in various aspects of the pensions provisions. The purpose of the new clause is to fulfil a clear commitment to provide occupational pensions for the chairmen of three boards — the Horserace Betting Levy Board, the Horserace Totalisator Board and the Gaming Board for Great Britain—for which my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary is accountable. Successive Governments, since at least 1978, have agreed that it is unfair to ask people to take on the chairmanship of these boards without any prospect of receiving a pension. The Bill provides an opportunity to put this straight. I hope that the House will agree that the opportunity should be taken, and will approve the new clause.

    The position at present is that the relevant statutes—the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 and the Gaming Act 1968—provide for the members of the tote board, the levy board and the gaming board to receive remuneration, but they say nothing about pensions for members. The same statutes provide for employees of these boards to receive pay and pensions. We believe—and I do not think there can be much quibble about this —that the important obligations which are attached to the chairmanship of these boards, together with the heavy commitment of time which these jobs demand, make it inappropriate for the legislation to preclude the payment of a pension. The task of running the tote's pool betting and bookmaker business demands a full-time commitment. The chairmanship of the levy board and of the gaming board each calls for three days a week.

    Another consideration which points to the unfairness of the present position is the long service which the office holders are likely to give. All three posts require a close knowledge of the way betting or gaming operates on the ground in this country. So experience is particularly valuable, and tends to lead to people being asked to continue in office for more than one term of appointment. The present chairmen of these boards have already served a total of about 20 years. I hope that the House will agree that with posts calling for this sort of commitment, it is only reasonable that the post should be pensionable. I should perhaps make it clear that, although the new clause provides for the possibility of pensions being paid to board members other than chairmen, it is not envisaged at present that pensions would be paid to other board members, as their commitment is far less than that required of the chairmen.

    Under the new clause, the arrangements for determining the pension, and paying for it, would be the same as apply now for the salaries of the members of the boards concerned. It will be for the tote and levy boards to determine what, if any, pension they believe is appropriate for the chairmen of the respective boards, but their determination must be approved by the Secretary of State. There will be no call upon the public purse because the funds will be found, as with all the other expenses connected with these boards, from the boards' own resources. With the chairmanship of the gaming board, it will be for the Secretary of State, with Treasury consent, to decide upon pension, and public funds would be involved in the payment of any pension appropriate for this post.

    We believe that these provisions remove an unfair and inapt restriction on the terms and conditions of the chairmen of three significant boards while retaining an appropriate mechanism of control, and I ask the House to support the new clause.

    This is an extraordinary clause to find in a Bill of this nature, and it is perhaps a little offensive.I understand from the Minister of State, Home Office, that he, rather than the Under-Secretary, is to blame for this being included in the Bill, and that any strictures that we wish to hear should be heaped upon his head. I think that they should be so heaped.

    At a later stage—I do not wish to go out of order but it is appropriate to mention this—we shall be depriving 1,100 people with invalidity pensions of £7·50 a week because of the changes that the Government are making which will affect some people who are receiving the maximum amount of invalidity allowance. For the Government to choose, with a remarkable sense of priorities, in the same Bill to give pensions to these three gentleman is astonishing. The three gentlemen are respectively Lord Allen, a former permanent secretary at the Home Office, Sir Ian Trethowan, whose name may be familiar to the House, and Sir Woodrow Wyatt, who is no doubt receving a pension for his services to the Labour party.

    6.45 pm

    It is extraordinary that the Government should bother to introduce this provision. It is wholly inconsistent with the many remarks that the Prime Minister has made recently about how people should be encouraged to make their own provision for pensions. I assume that Lord Allen has some pension provision as a former permanent secretary at the Home Office, and that Sir Ian Trethowan has a pension from his public service. Sir Woodrow Wyatt was never short of a penny or two, even before he started to write columns in the newspapers. All these gentlemen can more than afford to provide a pension for their retirement.

    The Minister said that some of these gentlemen had been in the service for nearly 20 years. Will this clause have any retrospective effect, and is it therefore intended to provide a more substantial pension on top of those that two at least already enjoy? It has been suggested in the press today that the Government intend to abolish the state earnings-related pension scheme, thereby setting people free to provide their own pension. Providing pensions for these three persons is extraordinary timing by the Government.

    I repeat that this measure has been agreed for some time, and certainly from 1978, when the Labour Government were in office. This measure will make significant improvements in many pensions. Therefore, it is not totally inappropriate that the new clause should be part of this Bill. The details and arrangements for the pensions will be the responsibility of the boards.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.